Artist Voices

Nothing Pretty

David Hoff, November 25, 2013

From the streets of Baltimore City, growing up in the rough streets of the ghetto, the first thing one sees when venturing into the world in search of ascending to manhood is war. Nothing is pretty about it, nor is it as enticing as movies make it out to be. Seeing one of your closest comrades laid out on the pavement, leaking brain matter from the same bullet that grazed your arm as you ducked for cover is not the easiest thing to witness, nor is it at all easy on your conscience, knowing that if only you would have took the shot to the elbow instead of thinking about saving yourself, maybe the bullet would have lodged in the bone and your closest of friends would still be alive. Video games and movies make war seem such a fantastic thing to experience, especially when you got a Rambo running around taking out an entire battalion of enemies without taking a single flesh wound. In reality, it’s better to be born blind than to have to see war through the eyes of a soldier in hostile territory.

            Bullets flying past your head, bombs blowing up so close to you that you can smell the corroded scent of phosphor and cordite, watching as the friend who was right beside you turns into chunks of flesh and limbs. Thinking about your son and daughter and whether or not you will ever make it back home again to see that twinkle in their eyes or hear the words “I love you” come from their precious lips again. Looking down the sights of the scope only to find a child who is barely a teen running towards you with a rifle bigger than him in his hands aimed at you ready to fire… do you shoot and kill a boy no older than your very own son, or do you think twice and allow him to make your children fatherless in that split second of hesitation. A different mother receiving the news from some stranger that her son is never coming home again, and they use the slogan “he served his country proudly” as if it will cause the pain in her heart and tears in her eyes to disappear.

Now the street beefs that happen in the ghettos across the nation are different than the ones where soldiers sign up to defend their country, but not in the sense of morality or the law, but specifically in the sense that those soldiers dying overseas don’t even really know what they are over there dying for. Of course, the government will say that it’s to keep this country safe and to destroy the terrorist, but in all actuality a question arises in the minds of everyone who pledges allegiance to this country. Is war really fought these days to protect this country or are we so stuck on imperialism that we know nothing else but to dictate the world from afar?

            As a man who believes that a leader is to lead his people from the forefront and not from the rear, I honestly believe that the president or at least at minimum the secretary of defense should be at the head of the battle, the first foot to touch the soil and the last to leave. If this was the reality of it all, then war would be held at bay because the leaders aren’t bred to die for their people anymore like the leaders in the past were. In the heat of battle, our forefather and great leader George Washington would ride out in the thick of the conflict and wave his hat at his men to show that he was with them to survive or die with them for the country he believed in, and this in turn boosted their morale and made them fight twice as hard. I didn’t see George W. Bush Jr. waving his trusted Texas Rangers hat in the trenches of Afghanistan.

            This country was built on the premise that the power is to the people, meaning unless the people agree on something through a unanimous voting process that nothing could occur. The majority of the American citizens do not approve of this war, not unanimously or even partially close, so why is it that the power of the people is being ignored and the totalitarian way of doing things continues?

            Through studying war and watching politics I learned early on that the only thing that separates these two entities is merely “bloodshed”! War is politics with bloodshed and politics is war without bloodshed. Now not to say that war is unnecessary, because there is a certain degree of power and position this country has to uphold to remain the leading nation in this world, but when it’s a minute group of people like the terrorist in the deserts of Afghanistan, we got technology that can obliterate them from the skies instead of sending our sons and daughters over there to die.

             What is war? From the view of a soldier who has been through it many of times, I can tell you personally that war is the deciding factor of whether you kill or be killed, and to be placed in a situation like that without knowing why your life is at stake is one of the most painful of pills to swallow. Kill or be killed… do you really have a choice?




David Hoff

David Hoff, active duty military and PPCC student, is a winner of the "War from My View" writing contest.